Debate: has public nudity gone too far?

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Unless you’re a supermodel, just put it away

Lizzie Porter

I’m not a flesh fascist. There’s nothing wrong about mini skirts or tighty whities. But outright nudity is another thing altogether, because it breaches the gap between taste and causing permanent visual damage to onlookers. Gorilla-man hairiness and jiggling boobs that really should have seen a better set of under-wiring just aren’t very nice. It’s not about fatness or thinness. It’s that there’s a reason why mankind invented supportive underwear and Clearasil: the human body needs a bit of help.

Perhaps I’m succumbing to social ideals, which dictate that nudity is only acceptable for supermodels. Unless you’re St-Tropezed and hair-free, you’re told to put it away. But this isn’t the case: you’re just exposing yourself to people who would really rather not know.

A New York artist recently asked hundreds of volunteers to pose naked for his photography exhibition ‘Everyday People’ in Manchester.  He was attempting to recreate L.S. Lowry’s quotidian scenes of matchstick Mancunian working classes. But since when could coal miners, factory labourers and traders work with no pants on? The installations seem an exercise in the opposite: a display of modern decadence in superfluously static display. The fact subjects were nude seemed a bit pointless.

Naturists say that nudity allows them freedom, and to feel the breeze in more sensitive nooks and crannies. Yet do even the most ardent types harbour shame about their tendencies? Swiss nude mountaineers have gone to court to defend their right to ascend the Alps in the nuddy, but they also refuse to be publicly named or photographed, for fear of others’ reactions.

Even if nudist parades are confined to remote rural regions, (thank Heavens for small mercies) they aren’t an exercise in corporeal ‘beauty.’ Bodies are fascinating, but also a bit gross. Now, where’s my all-in-one bodysuit?

We need to accept that nudity is natural

Sophie FitzMaurice

Though there are sound environmental reasons why humans wear clothes, our superstitious revulsion of nudity is a product of social attitudes that dictate what is and is not desirable. In order to reclaim our sense of taste and decency from the umbrella waving, puffer-coat wearing moral majority, we must accept that there is nothing inherently revolting about the human form.

It is much easier to sell someone something if they are scared or insecure, and clothing is no exception. Would we really be so offended by the sight of a pert buttock if there werenít a line of fashion moguls waiting to sell us the latest in cropped lace panties or kitsch pop art boxers?

What does it even mean to be offended by something? Most fashion is offensive, in that it is deliberately provocative, hurts people’s feelings when they can’t join the institutionís exclusivist ranks, and generally looks quite unpleasant. The natural curvatures of the human body, though not always easy on the eyes, at least serve a clear purpose, which is more than can be said for the chunky plastic bangles and superfluous wisps of faux fur to be found dripping from accessories stands the world over.

I may not want to risk frostbite by skipping down the High in my birthday suit, but if someone does, I am not going to snigger like a schoolgirl at their decision to do so. They’ll save a lot of money by eschewing clothes, and ultimately, nudity is natural.

The recent hype over public breast-feeding is a case in point; breast-feeding is a natural process, necessary for transferring vital antidotes to babies, and helps mother and child bond. Yet women are made to feel that breast-feeding is a dirty secret. Breasts are fine if they’re digitally honed and splashed across the front pages of lads’ magazines, but if they’re serving their real purpose, providing succour for sprogs, they are given a berth wider than the waistline of a maternity dress.

Workers of the world, unite! All you have to lose is your clothes!